Today we drove back to San Juan and returned our cars. We went back to our hotel that we stayed at on our first night and asked if they could hold our luggage while we wait for our flight. The guy there gave us a really hard time but eventually we left our bags there.
Then we went to look for a breakfast/lunch. We ate at Cafe Del Angel and it was absolutely delicious. I had the best cuban sandwich I have ever had there and they had the best salsa. We actually bought a bottle of the salsa it was sooo good.
After lunch we did a little shopping and then we walked along the beach. Our flight was around 3 so we left to go to the airport around 1. Judy and Steve’s flight was not until later that night.
It was a pretty good last day but I’m ready for our next vacation already.
We woke up this morning and had breakfast at Cafe Caribe in the Hotel. The food was okay. They had a really nice view of the ocean from the restaurant. It was funny because Don and Judy saw someone they went to Jr. High School with! Crazy!
After breakfast we went to the pool and beach. The pool was freezing cold so we didn’t get in, but the beach was a little warmer. We did a little snorkeling in the beach and we saw quite a few fish. I saw a pretty big fish it was probably about 2 feet long but it swam away really fast. It looked like the barracuda we saw in Belize. We saw this fish that blended in on the bottom in the sand, it looked pretty scary.
It was raining on and off while we were at the beach. We sat out by the pool for awhile but then it started downpouring so we went inside. I did some research on snorkeling excursions. I booked one tour for the island of Culebra. I also researched some beaches on the Southwestern side of Puerto Rico because we are thinking of taking a little road trip there.
Later in the afternoon we went to check out Judy and Steve’s room. We had some rum and cokes. Why is rum so good here?! Then we went out to eat at Casa Lola. It was recommended from one of Steve’s friends. It was absolutely amazing. We had a sampler appetizer and everything on it was delicious! I ordered a steak and it was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. It’s going to be hard to top this meal. The waiter was so awesome. He gave us so many recommendations on what to order. He also gave us shots on the house, it was a Pitorro. It tasted like a caramel coffee. It was absolutely delicious. He also gave us advice on where to go in Puerto Rico. One of the best experiences I’ve had at a restaurant.
After dinner we stopped by Cold Stone Creamery. It was a good night.
Today we left for a week vacation in Puerto Rico. We were going to meet our friends, Judy and Steve, in San Juan. Our flight left O’Hare at 8:30 am. I was really excited to go somewhere warm because Chicago had been bitterly cold for the past couple of weeks with highs in the teens. The weather wasn’t so great when we were leaving so we were getting worried that our flight would be delayed or canceled.
Luckily, our flight was on time. The flight from Chicago to San Juan was pretty good. We bought the flight with our American Airline points. I sat next to a guy that kept falling asleep, but when he fell asleep he moved around a lot and ended up hitting me in my side a few times. He was really annoying. One thing cool about this flight was I believe it was the first time we have had a woman pilot. Oh, I almost forgot though…note to self, never agree to sit in the “bulkhead” seating. We switched our seats before the flight because they were not together and the attendant asked us if we were okay with sitting in bulkhead seating. We just agreed to it. It is the row right behind first class. There is no under the seat bag storage and the arm dividers do not move. The seats felt very cramped but we did a have a little more leg room. But never again, if we can avoid it.
We got to San Juan around 3:30 pm. They are 2 hours ahead of us in Chicago. We took a cab to our hotel, the Condado Plaza Hilton Hotel. The cab fare was about $20 from the airport. Our cabbie was cool, he was very proud of his automatic van doors. The lobby of this hotel was beautiful, it had a big aquarium and the whole place was just nicely decorated. Once we checked in we decided to venture out for some food and to check out the pool. It felt so good to be in warm weather! The grounds around the hotel were beautiful and they had a great pool area and their own beach.
We were going to eat at the hotel but then we decided to walk around outside the hotel. We saw so many restaurants. We decided on a place that had Mexican and Puerto Rican cuisine. It was okay…I had a steak and was expecting a delicious steak like I had last time in San Juan but it was not very good. It was too well done. The rum punch there was excellent though. I wish I could remember the name of this place but I can not find it on google maps right now. Maybe it will come to me later. Here’s some pictures of the view from the restaurant and our food. Don really enjoyed his meal, it was a fried pork chop.
After dinner we walked around more. We were right next to the ocean so the views were amazing. It was funny to see Christmas decorations and be in a such warm weather. We got some ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s because neither of us had actually been to one before.
We got back to the hotel around 8:30 pm and we were so tired. We fell asleep and around 1 am Judy and Steve arrived. They had switched their flight to avoid the winter storm Electra. They stayed with us in our room the first night. Slumber Party!
Today I intended to wake up around 8 am but forgot about the hour time difference and got up at 8:30. There was no hot water in the shower. That was very disappointing. Then we decided to go out for breakfast. We found a diner like place down the street from our hotel. I had 2 fried eggs with ham and toast. Don had 2 fried eggs with bacon and toast. It was okay breakfast. I can’t remember the name of the place.
After breakfast it was around 1030 and we decided to try to figure out what to do with our luggage while we explored more of San Juan. We had to check out the hotel at 11. We talked to the hotel manager and she said we could keep our luggage in their luggage room until 4 pm, so that was perfect. We got our luggage all situated and then checked out to explore San Juan for the few more hours we would be there.
It was so hot outside! We couldn’t decide what to do. We knew we wanted to get on the boat around 2 or 3 to check in. So our options were check out a couple of forts or the Bacardi Factory Tour. We could see one of the forts from where we were standing and it just looked like the sun was beating down on it. I knew the Bacardi Tour was free and I had seen a sign for it earlier so I convinced Don we should do it. He was a little unsure of it because we had a feeling we had to take a ferry to get to it and he was worried about time.
We went to the port to check it out. The guy said the boats run back and forth every half hour and the tour was only 45 minutes. So we decided to go for it. The ferry ride was 50 cents each way. The next ferry was taking off at 1130 so we had about 15 minutes.
In the ferry terminal a young woman came up to us and asked if we were going on the Bacardi Tour. She said she heard you had to take a taxi once you got there to get to the actual factory. We didn’t know this; we just thought the ferry would take us right to it. She asked if we wanted to share a cab and we decided yes. Her name was Anda and she was from Romania. We started talking while we were waiting and a man came up to us and introduced himself as Larry from LA. He had a friend with him named Anne. We all started talking and decided we would try to fit in a taxi together.
On the ferry over to Catano we made friends with an older couple of women. They were also leaving on the Carnival cruise with us later. I can’t remember their names right now. I wonder if we will see them on the boat sometime. They gave us some tips since this was like their sixth cruise.
Once we got to Catano we were hurried to a taxi, which was really like a shuttle bus so we could all fit in it. It was $3 per person.
Once we got to the Bacardi Factory we signed up for a tour. We had to wait for the English speaking tour so we had a 45 minute wait. They gave us each 2 tickets to get free drinks at the bar. We all quickly went to the bar and got a drink. Don and I both got Bacardi Coconut with pineapple juice. It was delicious, much better than Malibu I think. Don, Anda, Larry, Anne and I all sat at the same table and talked and enjoyed our drinks. The grounds of the factory were beautiful so we took a lot of pictures.
My second drink was some kind of raspberry mixed drink. It was good, but not as good as the coconut.
Finally our tour was called and we went on the tour. We got on a bus to go over the factory, which was a very short ride but for some reason they said you were not allowed to walk. The tour was pretty good. I learned a few things about rum. The highlight of the trip though was the free drinks and meeting the people. Once we got back from the tour we checked out the gift shop. Then somehow we all got another free drink. I got the coconut and pineapple again because it was so good. We hung out for a little bit because it started raining. Once the rain seemed to have quit some we all ran to the shuttle bus. Once we got off the shuttle bus it was pouring. The ferry was leaving in 5 minutes so we all quickly paid and ran to the ferry in the rain. Then we got back to San Juan and said our goodbyes. We exchanged emails and names for facebook.
Then Don and I went back to the hotel to get our bags to take to the ship. It was raining. We got our bags and walked in the rain to the ship. It was about a 10 minute walk. Luckily the rain started slowing down. We went through the whole check in process and that took probably an hour. We saw our room. It is on the 1st floor and has no window. It is pretty small but we expected that. Then we decided we would go to starbucks back up on shore so Don could do something for work online. We had been to starbucks earlier and there was a free wifi connection. The wifi on the boat is very expensive. So we got off the boat and went to starbucks. Of course the wifi was not working. And we both ordered ice coffees and they were horrible. So then we went to CVS down the street because we found out you can bring bottled water and soda on the boat. I got an 8 pack of Dr Pepper and we got a 12 pack of water. It’s just easier to have your own water for excursions and stuff.
Then we got back on the ship and Don had to suck it up and purchase some internet. We figured the best thing for us would be just to use the 75 cent per minute package. We won’t use that much. Around 630 pm Michael called our room and we decided to meet for dinner at 730.
We had dinner at the buffet. It was pretty good. We were so hungry since we hadn’t eaten since the morning. Then we just walked around with Mike and Teresa and explored the boat some. At 915 pm we had to do the mandatory safety thing where everyone has to go watch how to put on a life jacket and see where they go if there is an emergency.
After that we went back to the top of the boat to watch the boat sail away from San Juan. Don and I got some beer and we all went to the very top. We found a pretty secluded spot and we gave each other our own space. Then we looked over and Mike was down on one knee proposing to Teresa. We knew it was going to happen we just were not sure when. She was so surprised. So now Mike and Teresa are engaged!
After all that we went back to our rooms and slept because we were freaken tired.
Today we woke up around 5 am and quickly got ready. We ran to kinkos real fast to print another luggage tag for the cruise. We decided to check a bag with our fins. Then we got in a cab to head to O’hare.
We had a some breakfast and then had about an hour to spare before boarding. We started boarding on time at 8 am. Once we started moving and getting ready to take off though we sat in one place for a long time. Finally the captain said we had to go back to the gate to get a mechanical issue checked out. That was annoying to hear but also scary.
We went back to the gate and sat. Why is sitting in an unmoving plane so much harder to do than when you are in the air? I get so irritated. Luckily the problem was fixed quicker than I thought it would be. We finally took off around 930 or 10.
The flight was about 5 hours. I hate long flights! We sat next to a family that had 3 young kids. They were cute and luckily they were also well behaved. We landed around 3:30 pm, an hour later than scheduled.
We got outside in San Juan and it was hot! We got a taxi to our hotel. It took about 20 or 30 minutes to get there. I was so tired and hungry.
Our hotel looked very cute when we got here. It’s called Casablanca Hotel. We picked it because we could get a night here free through Hotels.com. The guy at the front desk is from Indiana. He asked how the weather was in Chicago. We found out our room was on the 3rd floor and no elevator. We are used to that by now. I was shocked at how small the room was. It is probably the size of our living room if not smaller with a bed, couch and a tiny tv. It looks nice though.
I quickly changed into some more weather appropriate clothes and got ready to go out. We started walking around Old San Juan. The area is very cool looking and everyone walks. Things are very close. We saw where the cruise ship will take off from.
We were having a hard time finding a place to eat so finally we asked these 2 guys. They gave us 2 restaurants that were authentic Spanish food. We decided on Mojitos. It was pretty good. We had a mashed plantain appetizer. I had skirt steak with fries. Don had a pork chop with rice and beans. The food was good, I ate all of it!
Then we started walking around more. We went down by the water and came to a plaza that had vendors selling food and purses. We got a bag of churros. They were delicious. Then we sat down for awhile because it looked like a concert was getting ready to start. But after sitting for a long while we decided to go back to the hotel because we were tired.
Now we are just chilling in the room. Not really sure what we are doing tomorrow before we get on the ship.